My passion for plants isn't just in growing them, it also stems to using them. Ethnobotany is the study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their uses

whether religious, medicinal or practical. Plants provide food, fuel, shelter and clothing but the

thing I find particularly fascinating is their uses medicinally. The Queens Garden behind Kew

Palace at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is like an outdoor 18th century pharmacy stocked full

of plants and herbs that would have been used by the household to treat a variety of ailments,

aches and pains.

To this day their uses have barely changed and you’re garden may even be filled with handy

healing herbs with weird and wonderful uses you didn't even know about!

Mint has many uses not least as a garnish for lamb or flavour for boozy cocktails. Medicinally

(and historically) an infusion can be made from peppermint to treat bloating, indigestion and to

ward off a cold.

While we’re on the subject of teas and infusions, Chamomile is another herb that can be made

into one. Famous nowadays for helping you to sleep, in the past it was also suggested by

herbalists as a drink to treat burns.

In the past, Hyssop was considered a hot purgative. Patients drunk it in wine or syrup to keep

colds and coughs at bay as well as using it externally as a soothing poultice on bruises.

Nowadays, we reach for the Cavona to treat coughs but Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is still a

lovely addition to the herb garden with its spikes of blue flowers.

Famous for its magical healing powers, Comfrey (Syphytum officinale) was grown in medieval

herb gardens as a treatment for inflammations, wounds and setting broken bones.

Wild cranesbill (Geranium maculatum) was used in the treatment of passive bleeding and

diarrhoea. But you’re more likely to use it as a ground cover for the front of the border!

Rosemary is most often used nowadays to flavour a roast but in the past it was to cure disorders

of the stomach such as indigestion as well as headaches, low blood pressure and problems

associated with the lungs and liver.

Echinacea purpurea is a great wildlife attracting plant and something you'll be familiar with on the

shelves of Boots the chemist. Until nowadays its reputation to fight infections such as colds, flu

and upper respiratory tract infections.

There is a lot more to many plants than pretty flowers. They are greater than decoration because

you live your life in them (cotton), fill your tummy with them (fruit and veggies) and cure all manner

of ills with them from colds to cancer whether you’re aware of it or not. Fascinating!